Whether you are moving by choice (which is a positive and pro-active reason) or force (change of circumstances) or are being forced to make a choice, the following are just some ideas and tips which may help to make the transition easier for them………. and you!
- Talk to them
- Acknowledge feelings
- Take them exploring
- Keeping in touch
- Engage them in the preparations
Talk to them
Communication is really important. If they are very young, they will have no sense of time and so talking about a move which is very far away will not help and may only give them more time to get nervous. However, it is not a good idea for such an important event to take place without the appropriate notice or else they may generalise that ‘things’ can happen at any time and feel less secure. You can assess what is best for your child or children based on their age and adaptability. Reading some books about moving house can be helpful.
Older children may hear about it elsewhere which would not be good so it is best to keep them updated as appropriate.
Some children may be anxious or even angry about the move. Older children and teens especially may resent having to leave the familiarity of their current school, friends, area. It is important to acknowledge this and allow them express their concerns if they can. Reassure them that you know it will be a (big) change and that you will help them to make it as smooth as possible.
Take them exploring
Visit the new area if it is possible and check out what might be of interest to them such as a park, playground, library, schools, shops, swimming pool or beach (if you are lucky!!) etc.
Keeping in touch
Identify in advance how you and they can keep in touch with their existing friends. This will be an important link in the early days.
Engage them in the preparations
Talk to them about what they might want in their rooms (it goes without saying to only do this if you are sure you are able to provide same!), what to do with the garden, packing up boxes etc. Delay any other changes until after the move (potty training for example)
The Move Itself:
While this may seem like the ideal time to clear out old or broken toys etc be aware that they are treasured possessions to them and ensure there are enough retained to smooth the transition.
Keep out some key items so they can be brought along and be there in the new house immediately. It can often be a good idea to unpack ‘their’ box early on so that there are lots of familiar items.
For younger children, it is sometimes easier to have them stay with grandparents or aunt/uncle whilst the actual move is taking place. Where this is not possible or for older children, have a survival bag or bags packed with food, water etc.
Stay calm and positive
This may be the most difficult of all but remember that they will be looking to you for reassurance about these strange new surroundings. Lots of hugs and smiles throughout the process will not go amiss.
Spotting the Opportunity
Whether the change was by choice, force or being forced to make a choice, know that you have the opportunity to help and support your child through a transition. As parents we cannot protect our children from life, we can only prepare them for it. Moving house offers a huge opportunity to show them that change happens and life goes on.
Source: Marian Byrne, Parent Coach for MyChildcare.ie
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